ABCs of Death 2 is the horror anthology we have been waiting for!

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The first ABCs of Death anthology in 2012 was a great idea. Gather 26 horror directors and give them each complete creative freedom to create a gruesome film based on a letter of the alphabet. A concept so strong that it could only go wrong if the directors go wrong. And a great way to hedge bets, because chances are pretty good that you will find something to your taste hidden in the grab bag.
That being said, I wasn’t all that in love with the first in the series, but have been looking forward to the sequel quite a bit. Not only did they announce a slew of great directors for the sophomore effort, but the producers went an  extra step and offered up the letter M for the taking in a very cool contest held around this time last year.
In fact, the contest was a great success, and many directors (professional and amateur) produced M-centric shorts for hopeful inclusion in the new film. A unique way to involve the tight-knit horror community we all know and love.

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I am glad to report to you that the new collection of deathly letters is far more successful than the first outing, for me at least. While the first film was fun, gross and baffling at times, nothing really excited me or stuck with me personally.
Happily, this is not the case with the sequel.
In fact, the new collection delivers many more hits than misses, and brings some new talented names to the forefront of the horror director watch list.

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Things start off with a bang after a unique animated title sequence, with E.L Katz’s “A is for Amateur”. This short kicks of the collection with some gratuitous sex, drugs and techno music, and tells the darkly ironic tale of a hitman gone wrong.

Followed by “B is for Badger”, directed by Julian Barratt, we begin to see just how weird these film-makers are willing to go. This one is a very dry and funny story of a documentary crew with a domineering subject that takes a gruesome twist.

“C is for Capital Punishment”, from director Julian Gilby, is a dark tale of mistaken justice, and features one of the nastiest executions I have ever seen. This one was gruesome and unexpected.

“D is for Deloused” switches it up quickly with a grotesque stop-motion short from director Robert Morgan. Hypnotic and stylistically reminiscent of the work of the Quay brothers and Jan Svankmejer. Dirty and beautiful, this one made me squirm.

“E is for Equilibrium” from Alejandro Brugues, director of Juan of the Dead, is a very funny dialogue-free twist on the story of survivors stranded on an island. A light-hearted and amusing entry with at least one big shock.

“F is for Falling” from Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado (who were responsible for Big Bad Wolves earlier this year) slows the pace quite a bit with this story of an Israeli soldier stuck in a tree. Not my favorite.

“G is for Granddad” brings the weirdness back up to 11 in this strange story of disparate roomies. Written and directed by Jim Hosking, this one has style and comic timing and one of the most WTF endings yet. Loved it.

“H is for Head Games” brings us something new and strange from amazing animator Bill Plympton. Anyone who remembers the weird animated segues from MTV back in the early 90s will instantly recognize the style here. A favorite.

“I is for Invincible” from director Erik Matti is another unique entry, telling the quick and mean story of a greedy family waiting around for their cursed matriarch to pass on so that they may divide up her wealth. The trouble is that she wont seem to die, no matter how they hack and tear at here. This one was awesome!

“J is for Jesus”, directed by Dennison Ramalho, takes a more serious tone, tackling religious zealotry and violent homophobia in his allotted time. Some great monster effects and surreal sequences made this one work well.

“K is for Knell”, from directors Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper, is one of the few shorts that didn’t really grab me. Some cool cosmic effects and strange happenings, but I guess I just didn’t get it. It sure does look pretty though.

“L is for Legacy” from Lancelot Imasuen, however, tears into his few minutes with a story of a strange curse in a tribal setting. A few of the effects are a little cheap-looking, but the monster is bad ass, and the short is a few minutes of welcome chaos following the previous entry.

“M is for Masticate” is the winner of the contest mentioned earlier, coming to us from director Robert Boocheck. Essentially a few minutes of a slow motion fat man on a rampage followed by a cheap Bath Salts joke, it is really baffling to me how this one was the winner.

“N is for Nexus” from genre staple Larry Fessenden picks the ball back up where it was dropped with a fast paced and stylish short about an inevitable afternoon meeting. Set in New York on Halloween, it is tense and creepy all the way up to its crazy climax. Loved it.

“O is for Olocracy (Mob Rule)” is another unique short that actually attempts to build a world and characters in the short time allotted. Directed by Hajime Ohata, it tells the twisted story of a world where zombies have found a cure and are putting the humans on trial for the things they did in the name of survival. A unique take on a tired subject.

“P is for P-P-P-P-Scary” from Todd Rohal is an old-timey cartoonish farce that quickly descends into a surrealist nightmare. Some good old slapstick weirdness that hits the sweet spot.

“Q is for Questionare” from director Rodney Ascher, who brought us the iffy documentary Room 237, is a kind of cheap-looking but fun short. Some weird camera angles and gory operation scenes almost get us to ignore the guy in the monkey suit.

“R is for Roulette”
from Marvin Kren, director of Rammbock and Blood Glacier, is a slow and tense black and white game of wits right up until the end, which only left me wanting more. This one was unique with a great punchline.

“S is for Split”
from director Juan Martinez Moreno is about as tense as it gets. Utilizing several alternating split screens as the story of a home invasion goes wrong, this one is dark and unapologetic and awesome.

“T is for Torture Porn”
from the Soska Sisters really takes a wild left turn in this short about a young woman being berated on what appears to be a porn set. Tristan Risk rises up and turns the tables on the bullies in a tentacle-filled technicolor climax that is sure to please all the voyeurs out there.

“U is for Utopia”
from Vincenzo Natali is a cool futuristic look at the concept of perfection and the fate of those who seek it. An interesting idea with a creepy closing, from the guy who brought us Splice and Cube.

“V is for Vacation”
directed by Jerome Sable is a mean and dark descent into violence and misogyny as two bros on vacation prove they have chosen the wrong escorts. The chaos descends as a facetime call turns out to be untimely and damning.

“W is for Wish”
is one for all of us 80s babies who ever wished they could enter the fantasy world promised in the toy commercials of the decade. Directed by Steven Kostanski, the maniac responsible for Manborg and Father’s Day, this one is gloriously weird and a great reminder to be careful what you wish for.

“X is for Xylophone”
seems like the obvious choice for the letter X, but Inside directors Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo bring a dark and cruel spin on the instrument with their dialogue-free entry. Great sound design makes this one gruesome and effective.

“Y is for Youth”
pushes the weirdness to the absolute limits as director Soichi Umezawa lets a young girl’s inner thoughts come to life as people regurgitate guitars and battle giant hamburgers and penises. An awesome fever dream.

“Z is for Zygote”
is unexpectedly my favorite of the whole film. Written and directed by Chris Nash, this strange and atmospheric tale begins with a man and his pregnant wife in an isolated cabin. He tells her if she keeps eating a mysterious root, everything will be fine and he leaves. Thirteen years later, we see the poor woman with a giant tumorous stomach containing a full-grown child who speaks. An odd and off-putting situation, which only gets worse when she finds that the root has run out and her child will be born one way or the other. One of the grossest, most ingenious films I have ever seen, this one really put the cherry on top for me.

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Don’t forget to stick around after the credits for a special appearance from one of modern horror’s most deviant degenerates!
Check out the trailer below and be sure and rent ABCs of Death 2 on demand right now, and check your local listings for the limited theatrical release this Halloween!




Revelation Trail – An independent zombie western that delivers!

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It is a strange transitioning time in the world of film that we all know and love. With so many new avenues of distribution, crowd-funding, streaming and downloading changing not only the way we watch movies, but how they are made and delivered to us as well. Some people fear that the big budget juggernauts will destroy the efforts of the little guys, and that shift is not far off.
And in this shaky entertainment environment, it is a great thing to see a truly independent film hold its own. Revelation Trail is a film that has followed it’s own rocky path for over six years now, as a passion project for director John Gibson and the crowd of supporters and help that he found along the way.
The film had the support of a successful Kickstarter fund a few years back and garnered the support of hundreds of people across the country who helped create the reality of the film. They shot the film in just twenty days, everyone kicking in to do their part to make the epic story of undead in the west come to life. They slept in garages, made brains out of ham slices, transformed vacuum cleaners into guns and turned their backyards into countryside vistas.
With the generous help of volunteers and reenactors across Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio, the film’s crew managed to get the film shot and it is now ready for consumption for us, the horror fans!

Digital Cover Art by Blake Armstrong

Revelation Trail tells the story of a man known only as The Preacher, starting off “somewhere in 1882″ as he tells the tale from a scarred future.
The scene is set beautifully as some ruffians arrive at the preacher’s home one late night, looking for shelter. He generously allows them to shack up in his barn, as he sets in for the night to protect his lovely young wife and child.
A sudden zombie outbreak erupts and the Preacher is forced to leave his hometown behind as it is quickly overcome by the hordes of the undead. He joins forces with the town’s Marshal and the two embark on an uneasy quest for survival.
This framework provides the perfect opportunity for the meat of the film, which turns out to be a complicated character study of two diverse individuals facing the unknown in their own unique ways.
The sudden zombie apocalypse has no explanation of course, and the unlikely duo struggle against both the undead and themselves. For example, the Preacher insists on burying and “delivering” each of the recently twice-dead, as the Marshal prefers to look on and sip from his flask.

Daniel Van Thomas as the Preacher and Daniel Britt as Marshal Edwards

In the time between the conception of this unique idea back in 2006 until its recent completion, we horror fans have seen nearly every conceivable take on the “zombie story”, with the rare exception of the Zombie Western. I will even admit to feeling a bit of zombie fatigue lately, as many of these recent films have been tired rehashes of things we have seen many times before.
That is the genius of Revelation Trail. The zombies are secondary to the characters and their own reactions to the insane new reality that they find themselves in.
And these are some great characters, played perfectly by Daniel Van Thomas and Daniel Britt ans The Preacher and The Marshal, respectively. Their antithetic banter is the key to everything that works in the film, and really transcend the homemade aesthetics at times.

The Undead Approach

The practical effects really get the job done, however, when we get to see the descending hordes of undead, particularly later in the film. The atmosphere is tense and the zombies look great and there is something really haunting about blood-soaked prairie girls. The practical effects are convincing and really amazing considering the wardrobe department dressed the extras for about four dollars each, thanks to local thrift shops.
When our pair reaches a well-protected fort late in the film, it is hard to believe that the period-accurate set was constructed by volunteers in two weeks time, mostly from discarded barn wood!

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Overall, Revelation Trail is great proof that the independent spirit is still very much alive and well in the world of horror films. A very entertaining film made from the blood sweat and tears of a few passionate individuals with a great idea.
Visit the official Facebook page for the film for more news and information, and also their Youtube channel which features several short films expanding on the story.
Check out the trailer for Revelation Trail below and find the film on DVD from Entertainment One, available now!

Promotional Poster by Blake Armstrong


Doctor Mordrid : Master of the Unknown on Blu-Ray!

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I have to be honest. I had never heard of this film until it found it’s way into my P O Box thanks to the good people at Full Moon Studios. But just looking at the Blu-Ray cover made me giddy.
An early 90s fantasy horror flick starring Jeffrey Combs? Sold.

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It turns out that Doctor Mordrid is everything you would expect from that cover above, plus a little more. Directed by Full Moon’s ubiquitous overlord Charles Band teaming up with his father Albert Band, Doctor Mordrid is a project that was meant for other things before taking shape as the fun film it is.
In the late 1980s and early 90s, Marvel comics was not the entertainment force it is today and the thought of quality superhero movies on the big screen was insane. Doctor Mordrid began life as an adaptation of Marvel’s Dr. Strange, and Charles Band was developing the film when the rights were lost. So he changed a few names, added some boobies and a particularly vulgar character and had an all new film starring Jeffrey Combs as a confident wizard destined to protect Earth from an “unspeakable evil”.

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Despite some of the sillier elements inherent in this pre-CGI fantasy flick, it turns out to be pretty damned entertaining. I have to admit that a certain amount of the pleasure I took from it was watching Jeffrey Combs keep a straight face. But the sets are extravagant and fanciful, filled with cool touches like the good doctor’s faithful companion, a raven named Edgar.

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So the story goes that the evil sorcerer known as Kabal is seeking a collection of mysterious elements that will allow him to open the portal to Hell and unleash his minions to wreak havoc upon the earth. Dr. Mordrid is Earth’s only defender against this threat and of course is misunderstood and impeded by the ones he is trying to protect. The only one on his side is charismatic young police consultant Samantha Hunt, and the two team up to stop Kabal as he makes his moves toward world domination.

 

tumblr_m6vefq4Enh1qieyxio1_250tumblr_m6vefq4Enh1qieyxio2_250tumblr_m6vefq4Enh1qieyxio3_250It all leads to an awesome final battle inside the Cosmopolitan Museum, featuring stop-motion dinosaur fossils. Yeah, that is just as awesome and nostalgic as it sounds, and the film ends with the promise of a sequel, which unfortunately never happened.

tumblr_mk6ki49wPp1r3d7d2o1_1280The new Blu-Ray release is stuffed with special features, including a commentary with Jeffrey Combs and Charles Band, a walk-through of how they shot the dinosaur scene, some candid and flirtatious interviews with Jeffrey Combs and Yvette Nipar (Samantha Hunt), and one really awkward and entertaining inclusion of an interview between Combs, William Shatner (!), Barbara Crampton, and Stuart Gordon (director of Re-Animator).

This movie works for me in the way all of those late 80s/early 90s B flicks always did for me, and it is really cool to see one now that I missed as a kid. So I am giving it a +1 for nostalgia. Overall, Doctor Mordrid is a really fun, weird flick and definitely recommended.
Find it for sale on Amazon here, or visit Full Moon and sign up for their unique Streaming service for all kinds of cool stuff!

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Review of Kevin Smith’s Tusk : A Truly Transformative Tale

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I have to be honest here. I was predisposed to love this movie.
There are a number of reasons why, and I suppose you can take this review with a grain of salt, since I am admitting freely that I simply love the fact that this film even exists. It is a miracle of independent film-making that a movie about a deranged man transforming someone into a walrus is in my local theater, screening happily alongside the summer blockbusters.

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Kevin Smith has long been one of my favorite directors, if only for the fact that since debuting with Clerks in 1994, he has consistently followed his own path. After making a series of great stoner comedies throughout the 90s, Smith seemed to lose his way in the early part of the 2000s. After an embarrassing attempt at a big budget buddy cop flick left him (and audiences) feeling empty, Smith was set to retire from film-making altogether. Then he took up a new hobby of smoking large quantities of high quality marijuana, and realized that he could and should be making the movies that he wanted to see.
Lucky for us, most of these ideas are deranged and tinged with horror. After impressively changing gears a few years back with the quick and dirty flick Red State, Smith subsequently lined up a whole roster of films he would love to create.
In fact, following Tusk, he has several other films and ideas in various stages of production, including a Krampus anthology and something he described as “Jaws with a moose.”
It is as if he is aiming to be the Roger Corman of the new millennium.

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The simple fact that this idea went from an odd joke on one of Smith’s podcasts into a feature film in a little over a year should be incredibly inspiring to anyone who struggles with creativity. If you listen to the podcast, it sounds like a couple of friends sitting around the table talking shit and having some good laughs. The fact that they followed through with this crazy idea should be an inspiration to us all.

Another thing that makes this film unique is the fact that it is the first film to ever have an officially licensed marijuana tie-in. That’s right, here in the great state of California, Smith partnered with a very classy medical marijuana dispensary called Buds and Roses to produce two strains of herb to promote the film. The sativa strain was named “White Walrus” and the indica labeled as “Mr. Tusk”, and were available in limited quantities. I managed to get my hands on a gram of the White Walrus last night before the show, and it even came with a handy Tusk grinder!

Okay, so what about the movie.
After we fired up the White Walrus, a gimmick equatable to putting on the 3D glasses before the new Spider-Man flick, everyone in my group was feeling happy and excited to watch the Walrus movie.
Justin Long plays a slightly mean-spirited podcaster from Los Angeles named Wallace, who takes a trip to the frozen tundra of Canada to further humiliate a young man who has accidentally cut off his own leg in front of the whole wide internet. When it turns out this subject is unavailable he follows a trail that leads him to another eccentric weirdo, Howard Howe, played by the hypnotic Michael Parks.
The first third of the movie works in the atmospheric old school tradition of the classic Hammer films, as the two share drinks and swap stories in Howe’s creepy old mansion. The tension built up here is great, and Michael Parks could mesmerize anyone by simply reading his grocery list, but let’s face it, we all know that Long is going to end up as a walrus.
I mean, that is the spectacle we came to see.

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And that is the main problem with the film. It’s scope is very limited, and there is only so much of the preposterous transformation that can be shown, so we get bogged down with sub-plots and offbeat characters to fill out the running time.
Especially a certain uncredited actor who has made a career playing “offbeat characters” who gets the spotlight for an inordinate amount of time right in the middle of the film, grinding it to a halt. Take away the sub-plot about Wallace’s girlfriend and best friend desperately tracking him down and the mumbling presence of bounty hunter Guy Lapointe, and audiences are left with only a few scenes of the good old gory walrus action we all came to see.
To be fair, those scenes are fantastic, and the sight of Long going “full walrus” is an image that will surely be burnt into the consciousness of audiences everywhere. The effects by Robert Kurtzman are grotesque and hilarious at the same time, and the punchline at the end of the film is worth the whole journey.

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Over all, Tusk is a bizarre addition to the filmography of Kevin Smith, and a unique horror comedy. The film is not perfect, but it is definitely worth a watch. Get out to your local theater this weekend and support this kind of insanity at the movies! We need more madness at the multiplex, so help prove to the powers that be that there is an audience for experimental independent films made by stoned weirdos.

Chase every dopey dream you ever have, so long as it doesn’t involve hurting or killing anybody.”
- Kevin Smith

#WalrusYes

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Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Netflix Roulette : The Den (2013)

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While watching this film on a whim last night on Netflix, it gave me the idea to start a new column here on Horror homework. Most of us use Netflix streaming by now, and I always get requests for recommendations for worthwhile streaming flicks on the service.
And I scroll through the endless choices as most of you probably do, waiting for something that stands out or really grabs my attention.
Last night, instead of 45 minutes of scrolling, I just pulled the fuckin trigger and took what they gave me. If you guys are interested, I think I will try and make this a regular column.

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It turns out that The Den is a film with an interesting premise utilizing all the modern technology and gadgets that we can’t live without, well-executed in a stylish manner. The film tells the story of Elizabeth, a young twenty-something journalist who proposes a study project immersing herself in the culture of a huge social website. The Den is something similar to chat roulette and omegle, where anyone can get connected to random people all around the world to befriend, chat with, shown their boobs to, whatever they choose.
Much of the film’s running time is seen through the lens of Elizabeth’s webcam, making this the next evolution of a found footage flick. I know that many horror fans are sick of found footage films, but I personally enjoy them when they are done well (see Willow Creek!). This unique incarnation of the technique works very well, especially considering that the story line requires her to constantly be staring into the camera.

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The likeable character of Elizabeth (actress Melanie Papalia) helps to quickly connect the audience with the world of the film by plugging us right in to her daily life. It doesn’t take long for the dark corners of the internet to rear their ugly heads, and the creepiest part of the film to me was that unmoving avatar staring right into the camera, when Elizabeth has the misfortune of crossing paths with of The Den‘s users known as pyagrl*16.

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Before long, this mysterious user infiltrates Elizabeth’s real life by hacking into her computer and manipulating her whole world easily through her myriad of gadgets. We never hear her tormentor speak, in fact we only know him through the rough texts and horrific videos he tortures her with. Before long, everything escalates and the police can’t do anything to help her as the film reveals itself to actually be a creative spin on the slasher genre.

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One by one, Elizabeth’s real life friends get targeted by this madman who finally reveals himself wearing a very creepy dead-eyed sack mask, but still never speaks. The kills are gruesome, although the found footage aspect of the film becomes questionable and a little shaky in the later scenes.  Some really gory effects and close up shots of the cuts and other methods of torture are executed perfectly and really make your toes curl up!

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The directorial debut of Russian director Zachary Donohue, The Den turns out to be a very creepy statement on our current obsessions with constantly being connected, and preys on modern fears of how safe the internet really is. The final scenes of the film say a lot about our culture of voyeurism, and ultimately the film manages to get under the viewer’s skin and stay there.
I really enjoyed it.
The Den is recommended for all of you Netflix streamers out there, and can also be found for sale on DVD here. It is eerily effective for those of us addicted to cyberspace, and particularly haunting to watch in the dark on your computer when you are home alone.
Let me know in the comments if you guys would be interested in more of these “Netflix Roulette” posts.



Doomsday is coming. What are you going to wear?

Book Review : The Dreadful Death Of Edgar Switchblade

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Best known as one half of the incredible Gothic country duo Those Poor Bastards, singer/songwriter Lonesome Wyatt has proven to have many more tricks up his sleeve. In addition to his distinctly desperate howling on the many TPB albums, he has his own band known as The Holy Spooks which bring a creepy edge to his songs of desperation. A fantastic duet album with alt-country goddess Rachel Brooke released in 2009 showed us a slightly lighter shade of his consistent dark side. And now, along with his prolific musical output, he has added the title of accomplished author to his resume, with his new novel The Dreadful Death of Edgar Switchblade.

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A follow-up to 2012’s introduction to the colorful character, The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade, the new book is a fast-paced violent trip into the warped mind of our pal, Mr. Lonesome.
Edgar Switchblade is a fascinating character; a religiously-obsessed mentally-disturbed cannibalistic bounty hunter born with cloven hooves. With his trusty horse Old Red by his side, who also enjoys quenching his thirst with human blood, and armed only with a deadly switchblade, Edgar wanders the world with the righteous intentions of cleansing the earth of the mad sinners and foul spirits which now plague it.
In the introductory novel, we learned the details of Ol’ Edgar’s strange upbringing, and followed him on a fast-paced first-person western/horror adventure into the darkness of Lonesome Wyatt’s fiercely imagined world.

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In the new book, written with the same distinct quick and dirty intensity of the first volume, we catch up with Edgar and Old Red right in the middle of a gruesome zombie apocalypse. Edgar dispatches the undead masses with gory glee and moves on to meet the man who commissioned his services, a mysterious character known as Reverend Hitchcock.
After taking some time to warm up to the Reverend, the trio finally join forces to embark on a holy mission to destroy an ancient demon wizard. Bizarre characters and uniquely chaotic scenes bring about the titular “death” of our heroes, but it takes a lot more than the notion of leaving his earthly body to stop Ol’ Edgar.
The writing is the star of the show, as Mr. Wyatt somehow manages to make the gruesome deeds and thoughts of Edgar Switchblade seem downright charming. He can slish and slash at the undead hordes until his trusty horse gets his fill, all in the name of his godly conviction. The turns of phrase are unique and convincing, as well-defined as any character in recent memory.
These twisted tales are not for everyone’s taste, for sure. They are violent and irreverent, and at times shockingly sacriligious, but all in the name of classic pulp fiction straight from the EC comics mold. Even the design of the thin volumes works to evoke that feeling ; the books themselves appearing wrinkled and tattered and edged with red paper, like something you would find on a magazine rack in a pharmacy decades ago.

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Readers will find themselves rooting for Edgar, even as they are repulsed by his words and deeds. He is the genuine article, a character so convinced of his own motivations that nothing stands in his way. These stories are fast and fun reads for us horror fans, and we can only hope that Mr. Wyatt can keep on spinning these tales for us in the coming years.
I know that I can’t wait to see what kind of horrific misadventures Edgar and Red will get into next.
As Edgar himself says at one point, “I still got so much Godly Violence and Cleansing to perform on this shit smeared world.
Both the books and all of the Lonesome Wyatt and Those Poor Bastards albums are available at the official Tribulation Recording Co. website, including a bonus audio adventure where Edgar teams up with Krampus (!) to teach children the true meaning of Christmas.
Lonesome Wyatt also has a great Facebook page, as does Edgar Switchblade himself!

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com

It is here at last! The Company of Shadows by Paul Gerrard.

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The Company of Shadows

It all started with an idea. An idea to take a stale franchise and breathe new life into a beloved horror film series. An iconic character redesigned, FX in place, and two creative masters at the helm, and the impressive Hellraiser: Origins trailer was born.

Being a big Hellraiser fan myself and seeing the ambition and potential from the trailer, I knew I had to keep a close eye on this project, which was clearly a labor of love. So I stayed in touch with Paul Gerrard over time to get updates and the latest news on the project. After hearing the project would not be picked up, mainly due to the original creator, Clive Barker, expressing his interest in revisiting Hellraiser, I was sorely disappointed.

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But Paul never wanted to let his vision die. Not only did he continue to create within that universe, he expanded upon it with a plethora of twisted new and exciting characters from god )or maybe something darker and older would be more fitting) only knows what perverse universe. Placenta Boy seemed to be the perfect poster boy for this campaign. For from something that was dead, birthed something more aberrant, more mad and beautifully grotesque than his deepest desires of hell.

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The Company of Shadows kickstarter was then thrust into a world where it would not be widely understood, if only because of its boldness to be original. His twisted notions of character design and body horror is the star in this, exceedingly brilliant with each turn of the page, art book. Accompanying each character is a fascinatingly written outline of that characters origins, past/present, and/or future, which really adds to its jaw dropping unearthly visuals. I have read and had my mind and psyche devour and absorb these pages over and over again. The great thing about this book is there is something new to see each time. Each detail, no matter how small, is painstakingly added for a reason. The images and the symbols found within, resonate in your subconscious well after putting it down.

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What resides in this tome is something that is uniquely important and better yet proof, to those that still believe there is still primordial creativity and new ideas swarming about in the minds of a few. One of the many great things about owning this book is knowing your money will be going towards making new IP’s using some of the characters from the book.

Paul Gerrard is best known for his work in Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans, and even the new blockbuster hit TMNT, but I believe he will now be best known for his masterpiece, The Company of Shadows.

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Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Director Billy Pon sends in the homicidal serial rapist clowns for “Circus Of The Dead”!

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“Nobody likes a clown at midnight.”
- Stephen King

Coulrophobia appears to be at an all time high right now, with evil clowns reaching heights of popularity we have never seen the likes of before. Rob Zombie has just introduced his new killer clown flick 31 to the wonders of the internet, a big screen remake of Stephen King’s “It” is reportedly in production, and the real world is filling up with juggalos and Northhampton Clown copycats.
Recent horror flicks like Stitches, All Hallow’s Eve and The Last Circus have all tapped into this fast spreading inexplicable fear of clowns to varying degrees of success. And then Circus Of The Dead shows up to teach them all how it is done…
Circus Of The Dead is sure to be two of the dirtiest, most morally-bankrupt, sadistic hours of your life. A film that has no boundaries, and acts only to push yours, this chaotic clown rampage is not one that you will soon forget. Director Billy Pon has earned the nickname “Bloody Bill”, without a doubt.

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After a quick introduction to our colorful clowns that instantly let’s us know they mean business, the film gets started inconspicuously enough. We meet the Johnson family, who seem to be the whole package, as they head out for family fun time at the local circus.
Unfortunately for them, this Circus is under the dark influence of Papa Corn and he has his own demented idea of what passes for entertainment. The top-notch performance from Bill Oberst Jr. as “Papa” is a particular stand-out among some of the other slightly underwhelming performances. Mr. Oberst, a ubiquitous mainstay in many modern horror films, attacks this role with demented glee, managing to go from eerily calm to frothing lunatic at a moment’s notice.

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At first, Papa Corn appears to select his victim’s somewhat at random, using an old deck of tarot-like cards as the only method to his madness. Described as a variation of “Bingo from Mexico”, Papa sets his eye on the obvious choice at the big top show — the MILF holding a corn dog in one hand and dabbing mustard from her cleavage with the other!

Armed with a staple gun, an electric carving knife, a blowtorch and various other misappropriated tools, Poppa and his crew abduct Johnson’s wife and daughters and proceed to force him to participate in their planned twisted rampage if he ever wants to see them again.
Now when I say “twisted rampage”, I mean it. I consider myself to be a pretty damn jaded horror fan (for better or worse) but a few of these scenes actually had me wincing and cringing with disbelief.

Be warned, this film is not for the easily offended. This is a balls-out, mean-ass horror film!

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The director takes the story to places so depraved and sadistic, and there is a level of real cruelty and extreme apathy at work here that is rarely seen in any film. It is as if “Papa Corn” has taken the agent of chaos theory from his fellow cinematic clown “The Joker” to a whole new extreme.

Taking tonal cues from classic exploitation films and amping them up for the new millennium, Circus Of The Dead builds to an insanely hectic stalk and slash climax at an old movie theater playing a double feature of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Jaws”. The clown carnage reaches a bloody crescendo here, and leaves us with one of the most cruel final acts since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of “The Mist”.

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If you can take any more, be sure and stay tuned for a surprise after the credits, which revisits Doll-Boy, a character from Bloody Bill’s earlier short film which inspired this feature.
This is a horror film made with passion for fans of dirty old school thrills with a cruel streak. Worth watching for Bill Oberst Jr.’s hypnotic performance alone, the level of anarchy otherwise on display here is more than enough to satisfy gore lovers and cinematic sociopaths of any kind.
Currently touring festivals and making appearances in various theaters in the director’s native Texas, Circus Of The Dead is still looking for the distributor with the balls to release this film to a wide audience.
Stay tuned to the official Circus Of The Dead Facebook page for more news and updates on when you will be able to see this deranged masterpiece for yourselves.
Recommended.
Grade : B+



Horror Comics at TFAW.com

New from Wild Eye Releasing : “Blood Soaked” and “Invasion Of The Scream Queens”!

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Our friends at Wild Eye Releasing have a pair of treats in store for horror fans coming at you today, June 17th!
This independent horror distribution company is helping us to ring in the summer with something old and something new.

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First up is director Peter Grendle’s new film “Blood Soaked”, a low budget genre and style mash-up that more than lives up to it’s title. This one has got it all : young college lesbians, hate crimes, torture porn, and even cannibalistic Nazi zombies. As independent as it gets, this “everything but the kitchen sink” flick is undeniably entertaining.

After having the misfortune of running into two twisted redneck sisters on the back roads, two cute co-eds get put through the wringer. Shot outside of Santa Fe New Mexico, where horror films and culture are still very taboo, Blood Soaked is based on Grendle’s independent short film “This Side Of Nightmare”.

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Featuring 100% practical effects, the film keeps the audience off-kilter by switching between color and black and white footage, and covering the cast in buckets of blood. It is a fun flick for any fans of independent do-it-yourself horror, and I can’t wait to see what this director does in the future!

The DVD release of Blood Soaked exclusively includes a commentary with director Peter Grendle, a commentary with the cast, a live audience track from the Pollygrind Film Festival, the short film This Side of Nightmare, a cast video introduction, trailers and an mp3 download from Eternal of Wu-Tang Killa Bees.

Find more information about Blood Soaked on their official Facebook page, and order your copy here!

 

Also being released today is a re-issue of the early 90s documentary “Invasion Of The Scream Queens”. From a time when that was still a new term, this classic takes a long look at the exploitation and horror flicks of the late 70s and early 80s, featuring  fascinating interviews with Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, Mary Woronov and many more.
For the first time on DVD, you can get to know all of your favorite B-movie actresses and hear them tell their own stories.

The DVD release of Invasion of the Scream Queens exclusively includes a new 2013 interview with Donald Farmer, deleted/ extended interviews from the original production, and an excerpt featuring Linnea Quigley from the out of print book that started it all, Invasion of the Scream Queens.

Get your copy here!

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To find these new releases and much more, check out the Wild Eye Shop and help support independent horror films and distributors!

 

Horror Comics at TFAW.com

Full Moon Streaming brings back the scream queens for “Trophy Heads”!

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After decades of bringing us the best of B-horror on V/H/S and DVD, legendary horror director Charles Band and his Full Moon Studios are now leading the way in this new era of high-speed distribution.

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Debuting Full Moon Streaming a few months back, the studio brings an extensive collection of classic horror and exploitation films readily available at the click of a mouse. Think of it as “Netflix for horror geeks”. Adding new titles and rewards often, this move into cyber-distribution is a great move that benefits the fans the most. In addition to the many titles available from the back-catalogue of classics, they have begun an original series for streaming as well.
Trophy Heads, which premiered last week on June 6th, tells the story of Max, a die-hard fan of the classic 80’s horror flicks and his dream of returning his favorite scream queens to their former glory.

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Max lives in the basement of his mother’s house and watches horror tapes in his underwear all day long (Don’t we all?). After being suddenly inspired along his new dark path, Max sets his sights on his first victim, Darcy DeMoss. Hunting her down and brutally removing her head in the opening of the first episode, Max finds that it is really hard to keep a good scream queen down. That’s right, just because her head is detached from her body, she doesn’t stop busting his balls.
Max explains that he is making what he considers to be “performance art”, rather than perfectly recreate scenes from the movies. His goal is to re-imagine them in his own twisted version of his own horrific production.

Armed with an electrified cattle-prod and the love of his supportive mother, Max sets out on his mission to insure that the starlets he is obsessed with are never forgotten. On his list are Darcy DeMoss (the first victim), Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Denice Duff, and Jacqueline Lovell.
The premiere episode sets the show up perfectly, and the second episode (which premieres today June 11th) follows through with a vengeance as Max continues his work. Building a small prison in his basement apartment, Max takes Brinke (now a massage therapist) and a young topless girl (who seems to be there just to show us some quick wit and young boobies and I am not complaining) captive and throws them in the brig, before seeking out the one-and-only Linnea Quigley (who is now hilariously a door-to-door evangelist).
Slowly realizing the reality of the situation they find themselves in, the ladies are forced to watch the decapitation of their old friend Darcy, as they are dressed in costumes inspired by some of their old films.
The show is gloriously cheeseball and over-the-top, you know, just like those old films we know and love. It even makes some pretty damn clever commentary about the current state of rampant remakes and “artistic reinterpretations”.
The show is fun and funny, and well worth a look for any self-respecting horror fan.
I have seen the first three episodes now (PS legendary director Stuart Gordon shows up in the third episode!), and they are without a doubt a bloody good time.
Definitely recommended.
Sign up for Full Moon Streaming here, and take a look at the second episode which premieres today!
One last thing.
The generous folks at Full Moon Studios have a fantastic contest going on right now, intended to help spread the word about this original new program.
The rules and prizes can be seen here, and simply submit a selfie to this e-mail address submit@fullmoonfeatures.com and you are entered to win!
Good luck!

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